your right on the heights then occupied by the rest of your command. Before I was relieved by General Gregg, I received from you another order to move up my command immediately to meet the enemy, who had already commenced his attack upon your position. I immediately put my command in motion, then consisting of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Georgia, (lessened by one company from each sent out as skirmishers,) Major Little's battalion of the Eleventh, a small number of Kearse's regiment, and on the way I found Colonel Cumming and a part of the Twentieth, who had returned from supplying themselves with ammunition, and joined me, and hastened, with all speed, to your position. On my arrival, I found the enemy in possession of the ground I was ordered by you to occupy on your right. He had driven off our troops, captured McIntosh's battery, (attached to General Drayton's brigade,) and held possession of all the ground from the cornfield on your right, down to the Antietam Bridge road, including the eastern suburbs of the town of Sharpsburg; all the troops defending it having been driven back, and retired to the rear or through the town. Under this state of facts, I had instantly to determine either to retreat or fight. A retreat would have left the town of Sharpsburg and General Longstreet's rear open to the enemy, and was inadmissible. I, therefore, with less than one fifth of the enemy's numbers, determined to give him battle, and immediately and rapidly formed my line of battle in the road, within one hundred paces of the enemy's lines. While forming in the road, Captain Troup, my Aid, on my extreme left, rallied a portion of General Kemper's brigade who were retiring from the field, attached it to my line of battle, and led them into action with conspicuous gallantry and skill. As soon as possible I opened fire upon the enemy's columns, who immediately advanced in good order upon me, until he approached within sixty or eighty paces, when the effectiveness of the fire threw his columns in considerable disorder, upon perceiving which I immediately ordered a charge, which being brilliantly and energetically executed by my whole line, the enemy broke in confusion and fled. McIntosh's battery was recaptured, and our position retaken, within less than thirty minutes after the commencement of this attack upon him. The enemy fled in confusion toward the river and bridge, making two or three efforts to rally, which were soon defeated by the vigorous charges of our troops, aided by Captain Richardson's battery, which I ordered up immediately upon the recovery of the heights, and which, with its accustomed promptness and courage, was rapidly placed in position and action. The enemy, to cover his retreating columns, brought over the bridge a battery, and placed it in position. I ordered Richardson's battery to open upon it, and at the same time ordered the Fifteenth and Twentieth Georgia forward, who pursued the enemy so close to his guns as to bring them within range of musketry, which compelled his battery, after a few shots, to join his flying infantry, and retreat across the bridge. I desired to pursue the enemy across the river, but being deficient in artillery to meet his heavy batteries on the other side, I sent my Aid, Captain Troup, to General Lee, for the purpose of supplying myself, who ordered Captain Squiers to report to me immediately, which he was unable to do (from not receiving the order in time) until nearly night, when it was too late to risk the movement. Therefore, I ordered him to hold himself in readiness for the movement in the morning, if the action should be renewed. I then determined to move my troops upon and occupy the position held by me on the river at the beginning of the action; but before the execution of this purpose, I received your order to change my position, and to occupy the heights on the opposite side of the road leading to the bridge from Sharpsburg, on the left of your command, which order was immediately executed, and the troops bivouacked for the night. I am happy to report that our loss in this last attack was unexpectedly small. Such was the heroic vigor and rapidity of the assault upon the enemy, he was panic-stricken, and his fire was wild and comparatively harmless. Having been compelled to leave my command before official returns could be brought in, I am unable to state it accurately. Colonel Benning has doubtless, before this time, furnished you with them. Among the casualties of the day, I had to deplore the loss of two commanders of regiments. Colonel Milligan, of the Fifteenth Georgia, who greatly distinguished himself, both at Manassas and in this action, for personal gallantry and efficiency as a soldier and field officer, fell while gallantly leading his regiment in the final charge, (and nearly its close,) which swept the enemy from this part of the field of battle. Lieutenant-Colonel Holmes, who commanded the Second Georgia volunteers, fell near the close of his heroic defence of the passage of the Antietam; and it is due to him to say that, in my judgment, he has not left in the armies of the republic a truer or braver soldier, and I have never known a cooler, more efficient, or more skilful field officer. The conduct of the officers and men generally, under my command in the battle of Sharpsburg, was so strongly marked with the noble virtues of the patriot soldier, that a narration of this day's deeds performed by them, however simple and unadorned, if truthful, would seem like the language of extravagant and unmerited eulogy. The reports of the regimental commanders will bring to your attention the meritorious conduct of officers and men, which it might not have been my good fortune to witness; and as I have not the benefit of their reports before me, I shall have to content myself with bringing to your attention the most conspicuous cases of individual merit which fell under my personal observation. Every opportunity for conspicuous gallantry and valuable services which presented itself seemed to be eagerly embraced by those whose good fortune it was to fall in with it. Colonel Benning stood by his brigade on the Antietam, guiding, directing, and animating his
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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